AFLW: Nelson Bay's Pippa Smyth earns GWS selection in AFLW draft

GIANT OPPORTUNITY: Nelson Bay's Pippa Smyth has been picked to play for GWS Giants in the AFLW next year. Picture: Marina Neil
GIANT OPPORTUNITY: Nelson Bay's Pippa Smyth has been picked to play for GWS Giants in the AFLW next year. Picture: Marina Neil

Nelson Bay’s Pippa Smyth will play for GWS Giants in the 2018 AFL Women’s league after being drafted on Wednesday.

The 22-year-old has only been playing the sport for three years but was the stand-out performer at the draft combine in Melbourne on October 3 and 4. 

Smyth was in shock after watching the draft livestream at her Nelson Bay home with a couple of close friends on Wednesday.

She was announced in round seven of the draft as pick No.42 overall and the Giants’ fifth pick of six.

“I had no idea. My nerves this week were literally out of control,” Smyth said.

“This whole week I’ve been so anxious and I’ve been feeling negative, thinking they’re not going to pick me.

“I was watching it with my best friends and it came up and we couldn’t believe it.”

The personal trainer and fitness fanatic was one of around 200 aspiring players who took part in the Giants testing day last month.

She then earned a surprise call-up as one of just four Giants picks to attend the two-day combine at Etihad Stadium for representatives from all AFLW clubs. 

The combine comprised medical screenings, interviews and fitness testing and the towering ruck excelled in the latter. She recorded top-10 efforts in five of six endurance and agility tests conducted and clocked the fastest 20-metre sprint time of 3.24 seconds. 

“It doesn’t feel real right now,” Smyth said.

“I guess I’ll have to move to Sydney now but I’ll just take it as it comes and wait to hear a bit more and go from there.

“I just want to go and play footy and love it and do my best, that’s all I can do.

“It’s just going to be amazing. The hard work starts now.”

Smyth’s Marlins’ team Lisa Steane earned a train-on spot with the Giants for the inaugural AFLW season this year.

Black Diamond AFL football operations coordinator Garry Burkinshaw described Smyth’s selection as “a great result” for the region, saying she was paving the way for all female players in the Hunter and Central Coast.

“It’s unbelievable really, in our third year to have someone playing in AFLW, in their second season and with only eight teams,” Burkinshaw said. “I thought our best chance would be when Sydney come in and there will be two NSW sides. 

“What it does for our competition is it gives all females, not only ones that are playing in Black Diamond at the moment but all elite athletes out there who play other codes, it gives them a great pathway to know that it is possible.

“And you don’t have to go anywhere. It just goes to show that it doesn’t matter where you play, if you’re good enough you will get spotted.”

Isabel Huntington was the draft No.1 pick, being selected by Western Bulldogs.

The 2018 AFLW is expected to start in January.